Hell yes, Texan Ted Roddy is back in action

Andy Turner, November 2000

Hell yes, Ted Roddy has a new album out. The Austin resident, along with his backing band, the Tearjoint Troubadors, released "Tear Time" in October on the small Music Room label.

The 15-song effort is Roddy's first full-length album since 1995's "Full Circle" on HighTone.

But he's has kept busy in recent years, performing in clubs, lending his harmonica skills to numerous projects and appearing on several compilations, including "Songs of Forbidden Love," the 1998 compilation of cheating songs from Austin "super-group" the Wandering Eyes. On the album, Roddy, Kelly Willis, Dale Watson, Chris O'Connell, Rosie Flores and others paid tribute to classic tales of slippin' around like "It's a Cheatin' Situation" and "Even If I Have to Steal."

"That was great," Roddy says. "I always wanted to work with (producer and Asleep at the Wheel drummer) Dave Sanger. It was fun to work with them. They knew I had a big collection of country songs, and they asked me to pick out a few of my favorites."

Perhaps the best and most defiant ditty about stolen love from the album was Roddy's "Hell Yes, I Cheated."

Roddy's interpretation was inspired by a version of the song by James Pastell from Roddy's 45 collection. Released in the middle of the Clinton/Lewinsky saga, "Songs of Forbidden Love" was a hit on Americana radio, and legendary DJ Bill Mack gave "Hell Yes, I Cheated" plenty of airplay on his Midnight Cowboy Trucking Network program.

"That was pretty cool," Roddy admits.

Roddy says Sanger has talked to him about doing another Wandering Eyes album.

"I told him I'd be available," Roddy says. "I hope he does."

Although "Tear Time" is just Roddy's second full-length solo release in the U.S., he's a two-decade veteran of the Texas music scene.

A native of Corpus Christi, Roddy says he got into music as a drummer in junior high school and switched back and forth between drums and harmonica for a few years. Harmonica eventually won out, and he's subsequently become an in-demand harp player, appearing on albums by the likes of Dave Alvin, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Hal Ketchum.

He moved to Dallas in 1979 to play with the blues group Mark Pollack and the Midnighters. When the group disbanded in 1983, he started Teddy and the TallTops,

a rockabilly group also featuring Jim Heath (aka the Rev. Horton Heat) and the Bad Livers' Danny Barnes. The group moved to Austin in 1985 and continued to perform (with various lineups) through the early '90's.

In Austin, he also formed the Naughty Ones, a short-lived lounge and swing band that predated the most recent swing craze.

"I had a choice to move to Austin or California," Roddy says. "I always wanted to be in Austin. This is where a lot of my influences have been from. So, I decided on staying in Texas. I'm glad I did. I've been able to work with a lot of great people."

He calls his current band, a "who's who in the Austin country scene." The Tearjoint Troubadors, named after the Dan Penn/Donnie Fritts song "Tearjoint" (which they cover on the album), includes vocalists Karen Poston and Teri Joyce, guitarist Jim Stringer (he owns the Music Room record label) and Marty Muse on pedal steel guitar.

"Tear Time" undeniably has the "Texas Sound," a rocking mix of classic honky tonk, Tex-Mex, Cajun and blues. The variety of sounds is something Roddy stresses.

"I've always looked to not be real exclusive to one style," he explains. "I found out early on that was kind of limiting."

Roddy also had difficult finding a record label that wouldn't be "limiting." "Full Circle" did not sell many copies, and Roddy believes that HighTone didn't market it properly. After that experience, he decided he needed more control of the final product.

"I just found I didn't see any record labels with the vision of what I wanted to do," he says. "They all had their own ideas."

Roddy co-produced the album with Stringer, who has worked with Roger Wallace, Wayne Hancock and Marti Brom.

Stringer and Roddy began discussing the possibility of doing an album four years ago. A 6-song demo was completed in early 1997. While trying to schedule around various schedules, it took another few years to finally complete "Tear Time."

The album was recorded in Stringer's Austin home, where Roddy says he found a good sound and was comfortable.

"It was great," Roddy said. "The best recording experience I've ever had. It was relaxed and all about getting it right and making it real."

Roddy believes it's the best work he has ever done.

"I really like it a lot," he says. "The fact that I still like after all this tells me it must be pretty good."

Roddy says the album has been received well by fans and critics and even made number one on a new release chart in England.

Unfortunately, fans outside of Texas will likely have to be content with just the album. No tour dates are planned outside of the Lone Star State, but Roddy said he might do a few "high-profile" festivals.

"It's hard to get out on the road unless you do it all the time," he says. "We'd have to save up. It would cost us money. It's so expensive. It's not really a possibility."

But maybe this time Roddy fans will not have to wait so long between albums, he says.

"My ultimate goal is to sell enough records to pay for it and make enough to make another album. I don't see why we can't make that goal. I think that will happen. I just want to be able to control my recordings and get them out there."

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